Flood-hit Ballater village demands better protection

Ballater was hit by floods just before New Year. Picture: CompBallater was hit by floods just before New Year. Picture: Comp
Ballater was hit by floods just before New Year. Picture: Comp

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The flood stricken Jewel of the Cairngorms - the village of Ballater - is demanding better protection from repeat disasters.

More than 300 homes and around 60 businesses were left in ruins when Storm Frank caused the River Dee to burst its banks and sweep through the Royal Deeside village.

The natural disaster, just before New Year, left dozens of families and business owners out in the cold for months on end as they battled over insurance claims for their sodden properties.

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Aberdeenshire Council started rebuilding the old overrun flood defences last week - despite calls for a redesign.

Ballater Flood Group claim the local authority is ignoring alternative proposals designed to accommodate the shifted river channel.

The volunteer organisation has written to the local authority’s chief executive, Jim Savege, following a row over the rebuilding of a bund at the village’s golf club, which collapsed on December 30.

Coordinator for the flood group, Tony Cox, claimed its proposals for protecting Ballater were not being considered by the local authority.

They are fighting to have “short term” alleviation measures put in place around the village, and had originally hoped they could be implemented this winter.

Among the ideas proposed by the flood group is limited clearance work to the river and a Hesco barrier levee running from near the breach point on the golf course, to Ballater’s Royal Bridge.

Mr Cox said: “The flood group is fairly fixated on getting Ballater as high a priority as is reasonable on the basis of suffering the worst damage, per head of population, of any place in the UK – ever.

“I don’t know what you have to do to impress upon people that Ballater should have the highest priority.

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“We’re not going to stop making that point until somebody acknowledges it and affords Ballater the priority it must have.

“We acknowledge we don’t have total wisdom, but it is reasonable to expect both sides to engage. We are not about to give up.”

However, a spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council claimed the local authority was engaging with the local community.

The spokesman said: “We do continue to engage and consult with the local community whilst listening to the ideas of the flood group.”

The council is currently working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and is committed to a large-scale assessment of the River Dee’s channel.

This is to be completed before any plans for a future upgrade of the flood defence scheme is tabled.

The local authority has previously said the impact any defences in Ballater may have on communities down river would have to be assessed.

A flood protection study for the area is also being undertaken.